Tear stains are caused by excessive tear production or an inability to adequately dispose of excess tears. While it is true that certain breeds, including the Maltese, are more likely to exhibit tear stains, that doesn’t mean you have to live with the problem. Various health conditions and physiological factors can lead to excessive tear production, but your choice of food could be the problem.
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Low-quality food can include chemicals and additives, like unnecessary food coloring, that exacerbate the problem. Too much protein or fat may also be a cause, and tear production is a symptom of allergies and intolerances. As such, choosing the right food could help eliminate, or at least greatly minimize, tear staining.
Below, you will find reviews of 10 of the best dog foods for Maltese tear stains in 2022, as well as a guide on what to look for when filling your dog’s bowl.
The 10 Best Dog Foods for Maltese Tear Stains
Canidae All Life Stages Dry Dog Food – Best Value
|Main ingredients:||Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice|
Canidae All Life Stages Chicken, Turkey & Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive dry kibble with chicken meal and turkey meal as its two main ingredients. The food has been fortified with vitamins and minerals to meet the nutritional requirements of your dog, and it has a 24% protein ratio with 10% fat. It is high in calories with just over 500 calories per cup of food, so you may need to look elsewhere if you are managing your dog’s weight. As well as a good variety of essential vitamins and minerals, the food also contains probiotics to promote good gut flora.
The low price and decent protein ratio mean that this is the best dog food for Maltese tear stains for the money, but it does contain a lot of different proteins, which means it isn’t suitable for an elimination diet. You will need to carefully check the ingredients if your dog has allergies. While smaller dogs typically benefit from more calories per cup than larger dogs, the high calorie count in this food means it may prove too much for dogs that are watching their weight.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Dry Food – Best Overall
|Main ingredients:||Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Wheat|
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive food that includes chicken meal, brewers’ rice, and whole grain wheat as its primary ingredients. It uses natural flavorings like pork liver flavor and chicken liver flavor, and is high in omega 6, which is good for skin and coat health and can help care for coats that have been damaged by tear stains or affected by any allergies or sensitivities.
It is also high in vitamins C and E, as well as antioxidants. Not only do these ingredients help strengthen the immune system, but vitamin E is especially beneficial in maintaining good eye health. The food does not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Hill’s Science food is designed for smaller breeds like the Maltese, too.
The low price, lack of artificial ingredients, and the combination of vitamins and minerals make this our choice as the best overall dog food for Maltese tear stains. However, while high protein levels could be the cause of your little one’s tear staining, this food’s 20% ratio is lower than the 25%–28% usually considered ideal.
Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best for Puppies
|Main ingredients:||Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn|
Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is a puppy food designed for extra small breeds, which includes the Maltese. The food is suitable for young ones up to the age of 10 months and, as such, it is a very small kibble that is easier for small mouths to get hold of and chew.
Royal Canin’s food has a 29% protein ratio, giving the extra protein your young dog needs for muscle growth and maintenance. It also has a high fat ratio of 18%, which is higher than a lot of foods, so it may not be suitable for puppies with a sensitive stomach. However, with 412 calories per cup, it should be suitable for weight management while enduring that your puppy feels full.
This is an expensive food, and for the price, we would rather see the use of natural sources of essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good choice for developing puppies that could help minimize tear stains.
Now Fresh Small Breed Adult Dry Food – Premium Choice
|Main ingredients:||De-Boned Turkey, Whole Dried Egg, Peas|
Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Recipe Dry Dog Food is made from deboned meats and fish. The food is cooked low and slow, which helps preserve the nutrients in the food, and it is free from artificial flavors and preservatives, so there are fewer chemicals that could cause excessive tears.
Now Fresh also contains a combination of 20 superfoods including blueberries and pomegranate for their antioxidant properties. You will also find peppermint and parsley, designed to encourage better smelling breath, and whole eggs that offer whole protein. The ratio of protein in this minimally processed food is 27% with a fat content ratio of 17% and 408 calories per cup.
Now Fresh does contain beneficial ingredients and has a suitable protein ratio, but it is an expensive food and is another that uses three meat proteins and may not be suitable for dogs with allergies.
Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley|
Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is a dog food designed for senior small breeds. As such, it is fortified with additional vitamins like calcium, which is good for bone strength and maintenance. It also has small kibble pieces that are manageable even for your Maltese’s little mouth. The food is cheap, uses chicken and chicken meal as its primary ingredients, and as a reasonable 26% protein ratio.
Although most of the ingredients are considered good quality, split peas are the third ingredient, which means that they make up a decent portion of the food. Peas have high levels of protein and account for a decent portion of the food’s protein content rather than it coming from more beneficial meat sources. However, that’s the only real con with Nutro’s senior food.
ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Dry Food – Vet’s Choice
|Main ingredients:||Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Oat Groats|
One potential cause of excessive tear stains in Maltese and other dogs is allergic reactions, and while food allergies are actually quite uncommon in dogs, they do happen. Many dogs that do have allergies are allergic to the primary protein in foods, with chicken and fish being some of the more common. Limited ingredient recipes are a good choice for these dogs because they have a single protein source and tend to contain fewer allergens.
ACANA Singles + Wholesome Grains Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Pumpkin Recipe Dry Dog Food is a limited recipe. It uses deboned lamb and lamb meal as its main ingredients, and you will also find lamb liver, lamb flavor, lamb fat, lamb cartilage, and lamb tripe making up the most of the main protein. The food also contains fiber-rich ingredients, has a protein ratio of 27%, and does not contain any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. ACANA Singles is expensive, though, and contains additional salt.
The Honest Kitchen Small Breed Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Oats, Barley|
The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Chicken & Oat Recipe Small Breed Dog Food is a small kibble dry food that, according to The Honest Kitchen, uses human-quality food and meets FDA human safety standards.
The food’s main ingredient is chicken, and it also contains other natural ingredients, including carrots, flaxseed, broccoli, pumpkins, apple, and more. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives and is fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure it is a complete diet.
The food is expensive and quite high in calories, with 462 calories per cup of food, but it does contain decent quality ingredients and meets a dog’s nutritional needs while being free from chemicals and artificial ingredients.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Dry Food
|Main ingredients:||Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice|
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is another food designed specifically for dogs with small mouths. Its primary ingredients are deboned chicken and chicken meal, and it is fortified with chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are bound to amino acids, enabling the body to better digest and process the ingredients, and are preferred to non-chelated minerals.
The food also includes a host of probiotics that fight bad bacteria in the gut, therefore improving digestive system health. Omegas 3 and 6 help with coat and skin health, which can be especially important if your Maltese has been scratching at his teary eyes, while glucosamine will help with joint health and is especially beneficial to senior and older dogs, although this food is suitable for all adult dogs.
The food is inexpensive and good quality, but the ingredient list does include salt and it is a very long list of ingredients which can make tracking difficult.
Wellness Complete Health Canned Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver|
Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Canned Dog Food is a canned wet food that includes chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver as its primary ingredients. It also contains vegetables and is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. The food has a pate-like texture and, because it is a wet food, it has a palatable appeal to it.
Wellness Complete is expensive for a wet food and because it comes in 12.5-ounce cans, and since a Maltese won’t eat a full can every day, you will have to store half cans of food in the fridge until finished.
Halo Holistic Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
|Main ingredients:||Salmon, Whitefish, Dried Egg Product|
Halo Holistic Healthy Weight Small Breed Grain-Free Wild Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food contains salmon and whitefish as its primary ingredients. It also contains a host of fruit and vegetables and is fortified with vitamins and minerals including taurine and L-Carnitine. The food has a 27% protein ratio, which is considered ideal, and isn’t too high in calories, although there are foods with a lower caloric content.
This is a grain-free recipe. Healthy dogs can benefit from the inclusion of grains in their diet, but if your vet has indicated that your dog is allergic or sensitive to certain grains, this kind of recipe can be beneficial. Halo is a pricey food, and the salmon and whitefish recipe does have a strong smell that might put some owners off living with it.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Maltese Tear Stains
For some owners, tear stains feel like part and parcel of owning a dog. This is especially true of dogs like the Bichon Frise and the Maltese: breeds that naturally have a light-colored coat. The tears themselves are a by-product that occurs when red blood cells are broken down. Typically, tears run into the nasolacrimal duct and into the nose, but in epiphora, this drainage doesn’t occur or too many tears are formed and the excess liquid pours from the eyes and onto the area below the eyes.
What Causes Epiphora?
- There are several possible causes of epiphora, including a blockage of or malformation of the nasolacrimal duct or poor eyelid function. Health issues like conjunctivitis that lead to excess tear production may also cause the tell-tale tear staining. Even ingrown hairs and glaucoma could be a cause of the problem, and you should have your vet conduct a thorough examination to determine if there is an underlying cause.
- Diet can also play a part in excess tear formation and blockage of the duct. In particular, it might be caused by low-quality food that includes chemical additives, too much protein or fat in the dog’s diet, or an allergy or intolerance of food ingredients.
Is Epiphora Painful?
The tear stains themselves do not cause pain, and while the tears shouldn’t cause pain individually, the excess moisture can be irritating. As well as swelling potentially caused by the excess moisture, constant rubbing and scratching of the eyes may lead to further swelling and pain.
Is It Dangerous?
Epiphora stains are not dangerous but, depending on the cause of the problem, it could be dangerous. Similarly, excess tears and a problem with the nasolacrimal duct can lead to increased instances of infection, which can also be dangerous. If a change in diet doesn’t fix the problem, you should consult further with your veterinarian.
Choosing the Best Dog Food for Tear Stains
Taking into account the various possible dietary causes of epiphora, there are several things to look for when buying dog food and looking to combat tear stains.
Although rare, it is possible that your dog has a sensitivity to grain, gluten, lactose, or some other food type. Again, it is important that you speak to a veterinarian, especially before moving to a grain-free diet, but if your dog is diagnosed with a food sensitivity, tear staining could be a symptom that they are consuming this food type.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Food for Maltese Dogs
Of course, tear staining is just one factor to consider when buying food. You should also look at the following:
How to Clean Tear Stains
There are ways to effectively clean tear stains from below your dog’s eyes. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, ask a professional groomer to do it for you.
The reviews above include the 10 best dog foods for Maltese tear stains to help minimize tear production and to reduce the amount of staining. They are also suitable for the Maltese brand.
We found Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws because it is reasonably priced and free from artificial additives. Canidae All Life Stages Dry Dog Food is even more reasonably priced and also free from potentially damaging chemical additives. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Recipe is more expensive but has a really good protein ratio and contains vitamin E to encourage good eye health. For puppies, we recommend Royal Canin X-Small Puppy Dry Dog Food for its high protein and calorie levels, while ACANA Singles + Wholesome Limited Ingredient Diet is an excellent food for dogs with sensitive stomachs and looking to eliminate certain proteins from their daily food